It has been a solid 4 years since Machine Head released their last studio album ‘Bloodstone And Diamonds’ and on the 26th January the band release their ninth studio album ‘Catharsis’, a hard hitting diverse 15 track, 76 minute running journey of head banging fun with a few curve balls thrown in to keep the listener on its toes.
Since Machine Head released their ‘Through The Ashes Of Empires’ album back in 2003 they have been on an roll with solid albums with ‘The Blackening’ being released in 2007 ‘Unto The Locust’ in 2011 ‘Bloodstone And Diamonds’ in 2014 and now the release of ‘Catharsis’ which the fans are hoping continues that solid album routine, which in my opinion does but only if you give it your full attention and invest time into it as I found on first listen I was very unsure but the more I listened to the album the more it grew on me and the more things started to stand out for the better.
The album opens in classic Machine Head style with ‘Volatile’ a song which opens with Robb Flynn shouting out “Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, fuck the world!” as a flurry of riffs, drum beats and general heavy metal crashes around him, the song opens the album perfectly and within its 4 and a half minutes duration it manages to bring the metal whilst also featuring one of those big fist in the air sing-a-long Machine Head choruses that we have come to expect over the years.
The album title track ‘Catharsis’ is like your classic Machine Head track in the way that its lengthy running for just over 6minutes, it takes a long time to get going but once the song finally kicks in and comes to life close to the 2minute mark it becomes a progressive, heavy, yet sing-a-long pleasure.
‘Beyond The Pale’ is a great song and the closest you are ever going to hear Machine Head getting back to the ‘Burning Red’ era, it’s full of huge tasty riffs, banging drum beats, Solid solos and Robb Flynn flipping his voice from screaming his balls out to his more infectious sing-a-long style throughout the song.
The insanely catchy ‘California Bleeding’ keeps the metal flowing as Robb Flynn goes on a massive rant. ‘Triple Beam’ is huge sounding with riffs that just crash down in front of you, the song however is quite nu-metal sounding and features Robb Flynn trying out his own rap skills which are more like spoken word vocals yet work so well with the huge riffs and general Korn meets Limp Bizkit sounds of the late 90’s. ‘Kaleidoscope’ is a throw your middle fingers in the air circle pit anthem which was clearly written for the live circuit and has Robb Flynn shouting for you to throw your middle fingers in the air.
The midway point of the album features a song called ‘Bastards’ which happens to be the most interesting song Machine Head have ever created and is easily going to be the most talked about Machine Head song ever and all for the wrong reasons as it is the most non Machine Head sounding song ever, everything from the heavy riffs and shouty vocals are absent and instead we have a stripped down acoustic song which has a massive punk feel and attitude about it and lyrically acts as a letter to Rob Flynn’s sons about the troubled state of the world, I personally love the song but can see it touching thin ice with some of the diehard Machine Head fans.
‘Hope Begets Hope’ is a big heavy song which is going to go down a storm with the fans, ‘Screaming At The Sun’ is very much a filler song, ‘Behind A Mask’ has to be the most mellow song Machine Head have ever created, on first listen you would be forgiven for thinking what is this but If you listen to the song a few more times you will start to appreciate how good the song is and understand that even bands like Machine Head can be toned down and still rock when they want to, as the song is huge but in a mellow way. ‘Heavy Lies The Crown’ is a tasty progressive song which builds up over time to kick arse, whilst ‘Psychotic’ and ‘Grind You Down’ bring the metal in an epic way.
The album comes to a close with ‘Razorblade Smile’ and ‘Eulogy’ a set of songs which are so different from each other as ‘Razorblade Smile’ is an up tempo tribute to Lemmy full of interesting lyrics, whilst ‘Eulogy’ features a big mixture but is pretty mellow for the majority and closes the album in a diverse way.
‘Catharsis’ is easily the most diverse album release from Machine Head for some time, it features 15 tracks and the majority of the 15 tracks are spot on and like most albums there are also a handful of fillers, but you have to hand it to Machine Head for staying true to themselves and creating music that they want to create and not what others expect them to create and as mentioned above the more time you invest into the album the more you will get out of it as Machine Head have clearly given their all to creating ‘Catharsis’ and they have chucked so many different music styles and feels into the mix with the overall result being their most experimental album to date which is bound to get a lot of mixed discussion all over social media.
Review by Trigger